Lt. Gen. Adam Abdullahi of the East African Legislative Assembly said at the weekend that the three countries have already signed a memorandum of understanding on defence. This is slated to be one of the pillar processes of integration.
A common defence protocol would bring to an end many problems that have bedevilled the Great Lakes region, delaying progress and derailing the development process.
It would subject member states to certain rules and approval by all states before engaging in particular operations such as military operations in other countries. It would standardise the quality of armed forces in the region and perhaps rationalise their size. We could even ultimately have a joint armed force.
A basic tenet in joint military protocols is that an attack on one is an attack on all. This collective security would ward off any threats from member states from outside their borders.
Such defence arrangements have an added advantage in that they discourage the emergence of internal rebellions that often lead to instability at a wider scale.
Looking back at history, the Idi Amin coup of 1971, his invasion of Tanzania, the Tanzania war with Uganda, the RPF invasion of Rwanda, the Uganda-Rwanda mission in Congo and the various rebellions we have had in Uganda would not have happened if we had developed these defence strategies.
That is why the defence protocol is important.
The three governments must however subject these issues to wide and open discussion before protocols are enforced.
EA defence protocol welcome